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Are Meal Replacement Shakes Healthy?

Written by Jane Summerfield

We know that meal replacement shakes are all the rage, especially if you want to lose weight.

But are they healthy for us?

It’s not wise to just pick up any kind of meal replacement shake off the shelf and start drinking it on the regular without first gauging its nutritional value, is it?

While studies reveal that meal replacement shakes are indeed healthy, there are certain best practices to consume them that we must adhere to.

This is so that we can get the best results out of the shake without compromising on getting all the nutrients our bodies need.

Let us find out more ahead on the benefits that meal replacement shakes provide, the variety of such shakes available to drink, and just how nutritionally balanced they are.

If you’d like to know the best protein shakes on the market right now, click here to see our top recommendations.

Are Meal Replacements Good For You? What Experts Say…

Health benefits of Meal Replacement Shakes

Are meal replacement shakes healthy?

This is the question we started with.

Well, research shows that diet plans or changes in diet that include meal replacement shakes aided in higher weight loss, stabilized levels of C-reactive protein (CRP, which identifies as well as regulates inflammation and infection), and led to an overall improvement in health.

Here is a more elaborate understanding of how meal replacement shakes offer such benefits…

1) Support weight loss

Since these shakes can be considered a complete meal, people who are looking to lose weight can go the protein shake way to get the best results.

Since these are filling in nature, consuming these shakes reduces cravings for unnecessary consumption of processed foods and thus aids in weight loss.

Plus, a lot of replacement shakes contain most of the essential nutrients the body requires, such as high protein and adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals.

2) Better substitute than fast food

Meal replacement shakes are a much healthier alternative if you’re on the go and want to grab a quick meal than an easily available burger, pizza, or fried chicken meal.

Not only do they carry fewer calories, but they are also much more nutritionally balanced than fast food options and will not give you digestion issues or constipation the way some fast food items tend to do.

2) High in protein and fiber

By now, we’ve all heard a lot about the importance of getting enough protein in our diets.

Foods containing high protein content are recommended for most, especially for those who lead an active lifestyle.

This is because protein fills the stomach up for longer than our favorite carbs and fats, and protein shakes can do exactly that for you.

Plus, being high in fiber, they’re very easy to digest and also support clear bowel movements.

2) Easy and fun DIY

While store-bought protein shakes, mixes and powders are easy enough to procure and use, especially if you don’t have much time, you can also always prep your own at home.

You can customize the ingredients to suit your taste and preferences, use almond milk, soy milk, nuts, bananas, berries, and dark chocolate- go wild, it’s your call!

This way, you can avoid the extra sugar and often artificial flavors that go into commercial shakes.

There is also a good variety of shakes you can buy or make depending on your purpose of consumption – from keto shakes for weight loss to whey-based shakes for weight gain, green smoothie shakes for detox, and chocolate or caramel for that sweet kick, there’s something for everyone here.

Pluses and Minuses

Although meal replacement shakes provide a complete meal in themselves, they do have their drawbacks as well.

If you’re thinking of replacing meals with protein shakes, you may want to keep these points in mind-

1) May contain artificial flavors

This is particularly true for store-bought replacement shake mixes and powders – often, to make the shake more palatable and just a tad bit delicious, companies tend to add a good number of artificial flavors, from cocoa to matcha to vanilla, to these mixes.

In addition, many commercial shakes are likely to contain added sugar as well, which is a no-no if you’re avoiding processed foods and are trying to use meal replacement mixes as a way to stay healthy.

So, when you’re looking to purchase replacement shakes or mixes/powders, take a moment to look at the composition and assess whether this is truly what you desire.

2) Contain fewer calories

While one of the main purposes of replacement shakes is to fill the stomach up without adding too much calorie consumption, this can turn into a disadvantage for certain people.

On average, meal replacement shakes contain between 150 to 200 calories, so even if you were to take one for each meal, it would add up to not more than 1000 calories, which is not nearly enough to sustain the body.

Science suggests that an average woman’s calorie intake should lie within a range of 1600 to 2400 calories daily, while men would require between 2000 to 3000.

So, when considering meal replacement, make sure you supplement these shakes with healthy snacks and supporting foods that contain all the nutrients you need and the shake may not be able to offer.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we derive that meal replacement shakes are indeed a healthy way to replace meals, lose weight, detoxify your system, and just try to eat better in general.

However, this comes with the important caveat that you remember to balance these shakes with healthy balanced foods and don’t end up replacing meals on a regular basis.

Even the best meal replacement shakes cannot ultimately substitute fully for natural solid food.

Also Read: How to Make Protein Shakes Taste Better

References:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are proetin shakes good for weight loss?

Meal replacement shakes are generally composed of ingredients with a low glycemic index (GI), which means your blood sugar levels stay under control, you don’t get hungry too often, and these shakes are also nutrient-dense, just like whole foods, with low calorific value. All of these combined make meal shakes a good means of losing weight.

Is it safe to do meal replacement shakes?

It is perfectly safe to consume meal shakes on the regular as long as you supplement their intake with other healthy food sources. You cannot use meal shakes on your own by skipping every meal, your body still needs the nutritional value and more calories that are provided by whole foods and a balanced meal.

What is the healthiest meal replacement?

Today there are many options available out there for those who wish to pursue weight loss or even weight gain through protein shakes. When looking for a healthy weight loss shake, always seek those containing protein between 10 to 15 g per serving and less than 5 g of fat. The best meal replacement, and the healthiest, however, would be to ditch unhealthy processed foods and go for fruit, fresh juice, nuts, or unsalted cheese, all carrying healthy nutrients.

Can meal replacement shake cause weight gain?

While certain meal replacement shakes are meant precisely to help with weight gain, even if you’re taking meal shakes that are targeted towards weight loss, you might end up gaining weight instead if you go about it the wrong way. Since shakes contain fewer calories, you could get hungry if you try to subsist on them alone, and may end up snacking on fast foods to fill up instead. Plus, many of these replacement shakes contain added sugar, which can also contribute to weight gain. 

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